My entire existence has been haunted by the presence of an entity by the name of Frank. Actually, ‘Frank’ is only the name that I have chosen; for I’m sure that the other poor souls whose lives he haunts have given him other names. I’m not entirely sure why I settled on the name Frank. In my own mind the name has always held a negative connotation and He is nothing but negativity. Frank’s purpose is a simple one: to cause the host as much misery as possible en route to a slow, agonizing death. In this he remains undefeated. Some hosts are able to delay his plans for extended periods of time; sometimes months, sometimes decades. Do not be fooled! He is, as I have stated, UNDEFEATED. He is a master of his craft and will ultimately claim his prize. Patience is his primary weapon followed closely by despair. Following the despair is hopelessness; leading to the final stages of isolation and desperation. I too have become a master of his craft due to my many years of dealing with him but this knowledge has come too late to be of use to me. As Frank once told me, “The cruel joke about this life is that once you acquire wisdom you’re too old and too close to death to do anything with it.” This is Frank’s one flaw. He can’t see anything as being a positive because he has never known love. True, a man near death can’t do anything to benefit himself with the wisdom that he has acquired but he can use it as an urgent warning to others. This is my attempt to do so.

I encourage you not to dismiss my experiences as ones of a psychotic man. I use the name of Frank only in example; I do not actually hear voices. Frank simply represents… a cancer if nothing else. While I have no intention of telling my life story in it’s entirety- after all, not even I would be interested in that story- I would merely like to provide examples as to how exactly this cancer operates. More importantly, I would like to demonstrate how this cancer progresses from a mere nuisance to a fatal disease over time. My hope is that someone who is currently experiencing the mere nuisance can rid themselves of the beast before it progresses to fatality.

Personally I’m of the belief that the type of cancer that I speak of is genetic. It’s symptoms don’t begin to show themselves until adolescence, but once they appear they will never disappear. Isolation will become appealing to the child; he’ll learn that no matter what misery exists in the world he can always escape within his own mind. Something within him will tell him that it is no longer safe to share his thoughts and feelings with others. He’ll decide that it’s better to be a good listener. After all, he can listen intently to others as they express themselves and not have to share anything himself. Listening offers another advantage however; with time and practice you can learn to listen and gauge physical responses and emotions. You can gauge whether or not someone loves you or is angry with you simply by listening to the energy that emits from them. No words necessary. With this of course, the child will begin to notice through his listening that no one in his family loves him; his mother despises him, his stepfather is indifferent to the child that is not his by birth, and the half- brother is far too busy enjoying his own reign in the household as the loved and favored one. This child learns through his listening that he is alone in the world. He learns that he can only trust himself; his ideas, his thoughts and his own actions. Now he must leave the house and go on his journey into the world. In this he will leave behind the mother who despises him, the stepfather who is indifferent towards him and the half-brother who is the favored one. After all, they never cared for him anyway.

His venture into the world is a lopsided victory. The elation of independence is quickly replaced by the cancer that will now aggressively begin to take hold. Again, he will begin to isolate himself from newly founded friends and begin to escape within his own mind. In the loneliness he begins to create a new identity because his true identity is far too boring for his new life. More isolation… he begins to accept that he is simply of the rare breed that is better suited to exist in isolation. His calls home become few and far between; partially in anger at his parents but also because he believes that they are far happier without him. You see, he has developed the theory that he is only tolerable to others in small doses; he has found that he is better received after resurfacing from long periods of isolation. It is in the isolation that the cancer does it’s most effective work. Why does it matter what you do? We both know how this is going to end. Why bother with the mundane “responsible” things in life? If we’re going to end it soon anyway why not just take it easy? Why not eat, drink and be merry? Why not sleep with anything with a pulse? Why worry about contracting diseases? We both know how this is going to end anyway. Who cares about your appearance? Ah yes, you want to be physically appealing to your sexual partners… I understand very well. That will do for now. Enjoy my friend… oh they’ll love it. You’ll be a novelty act for them… yes they’ll squeal and squirm in delight. You’ll feel empty after but what does it matter? We both know how this will end. Don’t worry about working. For now we’ll steal and have sex for money. It’s your only asset anyway right pal? Wink wink. Are you feeling sickly? A little sluggish? Bad cough? Pain urinating? Blood, you say? Worry not my friend. We both know how this will end. Don’t want to make money this way anymore you say? Going to college you say? That will be fine for now… soon I’ll reintroduce myself. You’ve been doing good friend. That cough is nagging though isn’t it? Still a bit sluggish? They have these pills called Ritalin to bring you up friend. I believe your little cousin is on those. He won’t mind if you take a few… pain you say? There are plenty of dealers on the streets of this city friend. Don’t worry… you’re not a druggy like the rest of them. You’re taking pharmaceuticals. Completely different. Yes take them with a bit of wine there. Out of money you say? All is well, we’ll just live on the streets. After all the gutter is the best place to live. If you live in the gutter you can’t go any lower in life. Who needs happiness? You can lose happiness you idiot. If you are already in the gutter you need not fear going any lower. No, no don’t think about calling family… do you want them to reject you again? No we’ll be fine. Let us suffer. After all, we both know how this will end. Don’t worry friend, I will comfort you from time to time simply to give you a glimmer of hope. I take great enjoyment in snatching that hope away. Because soon you will be HOPELESS! Then we’ll stop all of this madness. Why don’t we move to another state? Yes, yes. Then you won’t be tempted to reach out to anyone. I think we’ll end it there. Once more I’ll back us into a wall… and I know you would DIE before being homeless again. That is my plan friend. Thank you for playing. You’ll die alone now and not even God will accept you. We knew how this would end.

 

     I provided this to illustrate the craftiness of the cancer known as depression. With this people become immediately dismissive and ask “Who among us has never experienced depression?” Indeed, we have all experienced depression, but those who live with it have an entirely different struggle. Recently, knowing what fate awaited me, I became fascinated with celebrity deaths; in particular celebrity suicides. I realized that these celebrities all had fame, money, and families that loved them. If these people, who on the surface had such strong roots still succumbed to the cancer, what chance do I have? By no means am I particularly intelligent nor am I a philosopher. However, I remember that while I was living with my grandmother I sat on the porch one afternoon and watched a city landscaping crew removing shrubbery. I noticed that the smaller plants were pulled up with relative ease; for their roots weren’t very deep. They were pulled up and tossed into a mulching machine; symbolic I thought. The larger trees however weren’t pulled up. They were simply cut down at the base of the trunk; the branches and leaves were mulched but the roots still ran deeply underground. This tree- unless the roots were poisoned- would grow again. This, I think, is life. The deeper our roots run- family, servitude, friendships, passionate work, spiritual awareness- the more we can get chopped down and still grow again. But if we do as the depression cancer desires- isolate ourselves, never speak about our feelings, escape to the solace of our own minds, trust and care only about ourselves- we will be pulled up with ease and tossed aside; never to grow again. To those inflicted with this cancer: if you never surrender into isolation and never surrender your hope for a better day THE CANCER CANNOT WIN. Don’t be fooled by it’s lies. You DO NOT know how your life will end; neither does it. You must bully the cancer with love, for yourself and others and seek treatment. Don’t allow the cancer to shame you out of this. Always move forward in your life; forge new relationships, discover new passions, establish new roots because with each one of these the cancer weakens.

My roots are non-existent; this is why I have failed. I have no wife, no children, no relationships and no passion. My legacy is nothingness. This is a last effort on my part to forge some type of legacy. The guy who figured out the formula to beat it; albeit too late to save himself. Perhaps this will fall on deaf ears; perhaps someone will understand. If the latter is true my job has been done.

Published by Montrell Carter